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Quotation of the Day…

… is from page 111 of Bas Van Der Vossen’s and Jason Brennan’s excellent 2018 book, In Defense of Openness (original emphasis):

To fully respect people, we must not just make sure that they have enough welfare, happiness, or utility. We must also protect their abilities to provide for themselves, take charge of their lives, and raise their own prospects as well as the prospects of those around them. We must treat them as active and productive agents, as contributors to their own lives and those around them, and not just as consumers or receptacles of goods.


The productive human rights capture this respect for people as active agents. They express that what matters is not only that we avoid poverty, but also how we avoid poverty.

DBx: By “productive human rights” Van Der Vossen and Brennan here refer to a subset of what are commonly called “economic rights” – those of the (true) liberal rights of adults to engage in commerce as they each individually choose, governed only by the wide boundaries set by the common law of property, contract, and tort. These rights are violated by occupational-licensing restrictions, by tariffs, by minimum-wage statutes, and by other such legislatively or bureaucratically imposed restraints on voluntary production and exchange.


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